Life is truly amazing. It really is, especially now that I am at a place in my life, 10 years removed from my husband coming out of the closet.
In the picture above, I am starting to shed tears of gratefulness on stage at the TEDxUniversityOfNevada event on Saturday, January 23rd, 2016. It was at the end of my talk/story, with advice for both the straight spouse and the LGBTQ spouse. I shared how thankful I am for Devon coming out to me, as it set me on a path to knowing and loving myself, apart from anyone or anything else, including loving my imperfect life. I pointed to him in the crowd, and teared up.
After the audience stood and clapped, I walked off the stage and bawled like a baby. It was surreal.
I am so thankful for coming to this place in my journey. I am here to witness that you, too, can get to this place. No matter what, you are loved, loveable, and not alone.
As soon as the video is edited and posted on TEDx’s YouTube channel in about three weeks, I will post and share it here.
Thanks for the love people. My life is blessed and I am thankful to be able to be transparent.
How are you feeling today? What are you dwelling on? How are your thoughts and circumstances affecting you, right now?
If you have found my blog through a search engine on Google or because someone recommended it to you, then my guess is that all of the questions above could be answered with some version of the word crap.
That’s okay. I get it. Been there…done that…bought the Tshirt. Some days, I am still in that place; however, it has gotten better for me overall.
I am going to let you in on a little secret this Thanksgiving holiday. Here is why my life has improved:
One of the best things I ever did for myself, to keep making the best choices possible during my second bought with colon cancer, was to write something everyday that I was thankful for. I did this publicly on The Book of Faces, because that’s how I live: out loud. Plus, as a writer, I like the feedback (and let’s be honest: I like an audience and attention).
When you are going through the crap, like all of the shtuff that happens to your marriage and relationships after a spouse comes out of the closet, it is tough to see anything in a positive light. But you know what? That is okay. If I could be trite for a second, that is actually a part of the process.
Once I commited to doing this gratefulness exercise everyday for a week, a week turned into a month, and suddenly a year had gone by. Even when caca happened, I accepted the challenge to find something…anything…to be thankful for that day. One time, I was even thankful for my Mexican Blanket, and another, I was thankful for a much needed shower.
Even if I missed a day (and at one time a week), I willed myself to write something. Forcing myself to find cause to be thankful changed my life. It allowed me pause to analyze my heart and my mind. It gave me the opportunity to know myself at my core.
And knowing who you are at your core, apart from anyone or anything, is one of the best key points of advice I can give to someone who is struggling in life. If you don’t know who you are at your core, despite the hurt and devastation going on around you, you are unsettled with a mind that races 24/7, and this ship that you are sailing on will sink faster than you can say the word help.
So do something, starting now, to help find out who you are at your core. How about you start by committing to write something you are thankful for and why? What’s the worst that can happen? You feel a little better for two minutes? That’s a win in my book.
Then, during one quiet moment tomorrow, write something you are thankful for again. If you forget, do it the next day. Keep a journal with these writings in some fashion. Even one year later, I can go back and see myself transforming and getting to know who Emily is at her core, apart from anyone or any circumstance. It is pretty amazing to see how far I’ve come.
One of the interesting side effects of this commitment to gratitude is that it was contagious. My thankful heart became full and it was natural for me to encourage others, even when I was in the throes of battling for my life against cancer. That, my friends, was amazing.
You can have this experience, too. Invite others to go on this journey with you. If you are a visual learner, like myself, attach a picture, a symbol, or a drawing you make to your Thankfulness Journal entry. It can truly be a life changer.
Feel free to comment below with what you are thankful for and why. Challenge yourself to find something that can be perceived as bad, and turn it on its head into a silver lining.
Change the crap into something that helps you know your core. Be thankful. Know yourself. Watch yourself grow. The attitude of gratitude is one of the most powerful life changers the human spirit has. Tap into it. You will feel like a winner, at least for a moment, everyday.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you, with love, from me.
Be Thankful, Live Life, Love Life, Imapact Others,
Whoa. Things went bananas today on my blog. I just want to thank Noah Michelson and the Blogger Team at Huffington Post Gay Voices for giving me the chance to publish my piece on your page. Looks like I may start adding my story in bits to the blog section of Gay Voices for a different spin on the life that many people have found themselves in, usually unwillingly. Here’s a link for the article, in case you missed it.
If you’re stopping by my page and want to know a wee bit about my story and don’t want to sift through everything I blabbered about on here, you can go to the Risk! Live Storytelling podcast by Kevin Allison. Click the link below and forward to the 19:30 minute mark.
Today, June 28th, is the day that Devon and I were married, back in 1997, in that sweltering hot, Civil War Era church in Ft. Scott, Kansas.
I have decided that weddings are like funerals in this way: It is the one day while you’re alive, where all of the people in your life from all of your circles (family, friends, co-workers) are in one place to celebrate you and the love of your life.
No one who attends has in mind, unless they are negative in their thinking, that your marriage will be anything other than ‘til death do us part. The next time that all of those people will be in one place will be the day of your memorial service… or celebration of life.
When I walked around the corner to march up the aisle, with my arm locked in my dad’s, I fully expected to start sweating and bawling and have my makeup melt down my face. Instead, I turned the corner and locked eyes with Devon, who was bawling uncontrollably with joy.
And I knew that I wouldn’t have to cry. I would wipe his tears and snotty nose as we lit our Unity Candle and exchanged vows. I had a job to do, and that was to help Devon.
… for the rest of my life with him. And I did JUST THAT. I was his helpmate and happy to be so. This could also be phrased as his submissive wife, letting him lead our eventually growing family, and standing by my man.
10 years later, during Devon’s Big Reveal that he has been gay all of his life, was a true boat-rocker. My June Cleaver pearls broke in that instant and I realized that all of the moments up until that point were not what they seemed to be.
That’s how I felt anyway.
Was he crying at the alter because of shame, guilt or saddness of trying to cover up his true core by bringing me in as cover? The furniture we bought together for our first home, the prayers we shared, the decisions I backed for him as his submissive wife… were they all a part of his own life and his desire to look like something different than what he really was?
I have since met and spoke with hundreds of men and women who have gone through something similar. The feelings of betrayal and being duped, used and lied to, are very real. Some people hold onto those things and continually punish their gay spouse… and ultimately punish themselves and all of those around them.
But for some of us, me included, we learn to deal with those and find truth in our existence as a loving wife or husband, who unknowingly was living in a Mixed Orientation Marriage.
There is no How To Manual for straight spouses. No yellow and black Mixed Orientation Marriage for Dummies book. I wish there was. Unfortunately, the only thing available to help us through is our own moxie, fortitude and perserverance and the offerings of other people’s support and stories who have been down this road before us.
As I worked through my own emotions for about a year and a half (and then some) I sought out others who could help. It’s tough putting yourself out there because a situation like ours (especially with the added layer of Church and Christianity) is shrouded in shame, secrecy and bitterness. Many people that tried to “help” only wanted to find misery in my company, and that isn’t how I operate. I wanted to work through it and come out on the other side healthier, happier and more fulfilled. I wanted to believe it was possible because I didn’t want to die and have my celebration of life attended by circles of people who pittied me or my family.
There had to be hope. There simply had to be.
I finally found it by working through my stuff and began to view my wedding day, our furniture, our prayers and our decisions as REAL and true. Our love was not fake. Mine certainly wasn’t, and the day that I accepted as truth that I was sincerely the only woman that Devon ever loved was the day that I could let go with a smile. I also slept for 14 hours straight that night and woke up without a burden on my shoulders of “How am I going to fix this?” which ran my waking hours.
I could move forward and found out who I truly was without him. And I can honestly say that I love myself. I may even marry myself and invite everyone to the marriage sacrament. Sue Sylverster of Glee, you had a great idea when you did that.
So, how do you get through it? I really don’t have the answers. But what I do know is that if you want to come out a better person, you will.
The word accept is not something that says “I’m going to just roll over and take it.” What it entails is understanding what you can and cannot control. I could not control the choices that Devon made, my history of falling for him, my desire to stay married for the rest of my life or my attempts at trying to make him see the light that he was choosing himself over his family.
What I can change, which is hard enough, is my own self. My ability to work with something I could not change instead of against it. My desire to love unconditionally, which meant giving up my own control issues, finding ways to make lemonade out of lemons, and sharing the wisdom that I acquired and could use to help others just like me.
I can choose to love without agendas or desire to control. That is all I can control.
Me. Myself. And I.
Who do I want to become? What do I want my children to remember? What kind of legacy will I leave behind when I finally have everyone that I know and love at my celebration of life?
It is love that I want people to see and remember. It is empathy that I want people to feel coming from my heart and lips. It is a joy that surpasses any temporary circumstance that I want to have in Emily’s Scrapbook of Life.
That is it.
I want to remember for myself the happiness that I felt in marrying Devon as I helped him wipe away his tears and snot. It was real. It was sincere.
Happy Anniversary, Devon. Our marriage shaped us both (and our children) into who we are today. And we love ourselves.
We have met so many wonderful people along the way and have been given many interesting opportunities to share our story not just through our blog, but with other media outlets. The Universe has been quite gracious in allowing our experiences with our own divorce to help others with their lives as they navigate the waters of the difficult issues that surround the break up of a marriage and a family.
Our own story, which ultimately centered around Devon coming out of the closet after 10 years of marriage and three young kids, is intertwined with the generalities of going through a divorce.
It is time to start a new blog that deals with the hot topics today of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and how the Church and other religions deal with the hearts and minds of the LGBTQI community.
But most importantly, there is a dire need for there to be places where straight spouses can find encouragement and support as each unique situation is faced. While it is a very big deal for a gay spouse to come out to his or her spouse and family, it is far too common for the straight spouse to be overshadowed by the news as the gay spouse deals with his or her journey. The journey for the straight spouse can be lonely and isolation is often the experience that defines that journey. Here, love, support, safety and encouragement can be found.
While many pieces that I will write about will include the added layer of difficulty that Christianity and the Church can bring into a MOM marriage, that is not exclusively what I will focus on. It is the hearts, the minds, the feelings, the difficulties, the defeats and the victories that will be experienced in the straight spouse’s world… that is my heart.
It’s a tough road. There’s no other way to state it. But it is truly possible to come out on the other side of this closet a stronger, wiser, more loving and beautiful person. Many have traveled this road before me, and many will travel it after me. If you have found yourself on this road, you are not alone. And you are loved.
Thank you for stopping by. As I develop this blog, help me to grow it into a safe haven for all people to live, love, learn and grow with as much open-mindedness as we can muster.
Thanks for joining the conversation as we step out of our door and follow the road we have been given. May we keep our feet grounded as best as we can so wherever we end up, it will be beautiful.